Nikki's Sweet Potatoes

Nikki's Sweet Potatoes Recipe

Ten years ago, my friend Nikki shared this recipe with me. She described these sweet potatoes as a sweet potato mash, but with a twist - they get creaminess from a generous splash of coconut milk, crunch from toasted coconut and macadamias, and a kick from freshly grated ginger. For those of you who have been long-time readers, this is the same Nikki who took my site by storm when I posted her Healthy Cookie recipe forever ago. The same Nikki I've been friends with since she showed up in my sixth grade class, fresh from Los Angeles, wearing a Swatch watch and white Reebok hi-tops. Both things I'd never seen before. I know a good number of you love this recipe, so I popped off a few fresh photos the other day. The only tweaks I made to the recipe - baking the sweet potatoes without foil, and suggesting an (optional) finishing drizzle of lemon olive oil. It's a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the sweet potatoes. Enjoy the sweet potatoes! Miss you Nik!

Nikki's Sweet Potato Recipe

I think she hit the nail on the head when she told me she paired it with lots of garlicky, sautéed greens. It's the perfect Thanksgiving side dish, but also an A+ option outside of the holiday as well.

Nikki's Sweet Potato Recipe

Nikki's Sweet Potato Recipe

If you'd like to prepare part of this recipe in advance you can certainly bake the sweet potatoes a day or two in advance and save the mashed sweet potatoes in the refrigerator until you are ready to move forward with the remaining steps. Also, you can make these vegan by using olive oil and not butter.

2 1/2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
1/3 cup coconut milk or non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon maple syrup, (optional)
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/3 cup raw, unsweetened grated coconut
2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
1/3 cup toasted macadamia nuts, chopped

to serve (optional): lemon zest, lemon olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400F degrees, a rack in the upper third. Butter or oil 6 ramekins or a single medium-sized casserole dish.

Scrub each potato, rub with a bit of salt, and place directly in the oven for somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half, until each is baked through. Times vary greatly depending on the size of your sweet potatoes - in the end you should be able to cut through the center flesh as if it were soft butter. Remove the potatoes from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes, and cut each sweet potato in half. Scrape the flesh into a medium mixing bowl. You should have about three cups of sweet potatoes. Mash the sweet potatoes with the coconut milk. If your sweet potatoes are on the fibrous side, take a hand blender, puree them for a minute or so (alternately you could use a food processor). Stir in the ginger, maple syrup and salt. Let it sit for a few minutes, stir again and taste - adjust the seasoning if you need to - this is your chance to get the right amount of salt and ginger in the sweet potatoes before they go in the oven.

Spoon the sweet potato mixture into individual baking dishes (or single larger baking dish), sprinkle with coconut, drizzle with olive oil and bake uncovered until warm and the coconut golden roughly 25 - 35 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with the toasted macadamia nuts.

Serves about 6.

Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 120 min

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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i cannot wait to make this! my recipe is similar -- no macadamia nuts, but instead an oat streusel -- but the very idea of twice-baking the potatoes and adding shredded coconut is wonderful! thank you for sharing this, heidi.


heidi, this looks lucious- once again your photos are as achingly beautiful as the recipes are wonderful. looks like this could work in a pie (a la your glorious spice-kissed pumpkin pie post) as well. thanks as always!


This sounds great! I actually did a similar combo for some twice-baked sweet potatoes (mashed and put back into their jackets) a couple weeks ago. One set had coconut milk, ginger, orange, and other spices. The other had coconut milk and red curry paste. I bet the simpler spice combos in this one will let the flavors really shine. Can't wait to try it! Sweet potatoes are so incredibly satisfying any time of the year, but they really hit the spot as the temperatures drop.

Laurel from Simple Spoonful

I'm a first time posted although I've been following your blog closely (and making a lot of the recipes) ever since I randomly came across your eating healthy while traveling post. This looks absolutely delicious. Made Nikki's cookies last night and can't wait to try this. Sweet potatoes abound here and I am trying to cook more with seasonal veggies. Thank you for all your wonderful, healthy, creative recipes!


I have been studying abroad this semester, which means no kitchen. I go home right before Christmas and cannot wait to cook and bake the entire break. All semester I have read your blog and salivated over each new post. I have written down different dishes I want to make, and this sweet potato recipe has made the list. Cannot wait to try it!


On a not-food related note... it made me smile your comment on Nikki's swatch and white hi-top Reebok.... even tho I lived in Italy at the time (we are I guess very close in age...) I had the same accessories.... And i still greatly miss my reebok!!! :-)
Thanks for all the great recipes, from both me and my husband, who is really appreciating the new flavors in my cooking!


That looks amazing! I usually shy away from sweet potato bakes/casseroles because the amounts of sweetener called for tend to overpower rather than highlight the natural sweetness. But the touch of sweetness the coconut and maple syrup add look just right to me!


Perfection healthy combination! I will be trying these this week!


I've tried a number of your recipes, Heidi, and they always turn out delicious: bright, light, modern flavours. I started my own veggie food blog a couple of months back (I'm very, very new to blogging and still learning about it!), and incidentally I, too, posted a sweet potato recipe on my blog this morning (it's an old-fashioned Creole-style pudding). We don't have Thanksgiving here in the UK, but I love the combination of ingredients in your recipe, so will definitely try it. Oh, and what a wonderful friend you have!


Wow, this sounds like the perfect twist for my version of my grandmother's twice baked potato recipe. Love anything with coconut milk. I think I am going to be adding some garam masala or chipotle to it also! What a great recipe for us to wow our relatives with this Thanksgiving. Plus if there are leftovers (doubtfully), this could be turned into soup with a bit more coconut milk and veggie stock. Keep the recipes coming!


This looks so good, I'm making a soup version out of it right now. As I type. No macadamia nuts, so I'm tweaking it into a soup. I'll make the real thing on Thanksgiving. Thank you so much Nikki and Heidi, I do appreciate your great recipes!


Could you do part of this recipe the night before- everything but popping it in the oven? I'd like to try this for Thanksgiving. We love coconut milk!

HS: Yes, sorry I forgot to note my make-ahead tips! I actually baked the potatoes off the night before.


HMoG this is exactly what I was looking for. Trying to keep Thanksgiving dinner sane and modest yet interesting. This is the final touch I needed. Thank you Nikki and Heidi!


Sweet potatoes = my obsession.


No wonder you've been friends for so long - this Nikki is a great cook. Yum!


I love that they have coconut milk in them...and Swatch Watches were soooo cool. ;)

Fit Bottomed Girls

looks heavenly. i recently mashed sweet potatoes and left the skin on for it's nutritional value as well as for texture. it was delicious! at my local Whole Foods there were a few different varieties of sweet potatoes to choose from--I went with a light-colored variety that I'd never had before. It also wasn't as stringy as others I've tried. Interesting!

Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?

I love macadamia nuts! I've done something similar to this and added some nutmeg and a dash of brandy.


Thank you so much for this recipe -- we just got a huge box (literally) of sweet potatoes -- don't ask, long story -- and I am desperate to find recipes for them. This looks fabulous!


Thank you so much for this recipe -- we just got a huge box (literally) of sweet potatoes -- don't ask, long story -- and I am desperate to find recipes for them. This looks fabulous!


I was going to make the Vanilla Sweet Potatoes for Thanksgiving, but I think this one just won that spot. Thanks so much!

HS: Thanks for the heads up Jami - I just fixed the links.


Oh, yum! This is exactly what I was looking for. I had been looking for a good, non marshmallowy sweet potato recipe for Thanksgiving. Thanks.


Sweet Potatoes are one of my favorite foods. I've washed them and thrown them in the crock pot on high, (or low) and cooked them skins on, till tender. Crockpots are all different in the time it would take, but it's a low energy, make the house smell good for a long time kind of convenient way to cook the potatoes. I read somewhere that the aluminum foil can leave residues on food, so I try not to use it. I've probably ingested enough aluminum in my lifetime. Thanks for the great combo of flavors. I miss the propylene glycol-(anti-freeze?)type of treated coconut, shredded and sweetened from childhood, but the raw stuff again, is better for me.


I cannot WAIT to try this recipe - looks superb... I think your friend Nikki is genius. I tried the healthy cookies and they were a huge hit - and they are now my standard sweet traveling fare. No wonder you look forward to email exchanges with your dear friend. Thx for posting...


Looks delicious. Question: Can we boil or steam the sweet potatoes instead, then bake them? I figure it will take less time and save some gas/electricity.


I love your words to describe your lovely friend. They make me want to meet her. On a funny note..I just found my Swatch watch.. needing a new battery of course! :0) Wishing everyone much love over this much needed Holiday Season!

Melissa T

i just bought a crate of sweet potatoes in preparation for a thanksgiving feast but, i've been sneaking into it early b/c i just love them! can't wait to try this recipe tonight. i discovered Lehua honey and think it will be the perfect sweetener here :)

p.s. i absolutely love nikki's healthy cookie recipe too! i have a feeling this will be 2 for 2. thanks!

Lick My Spoon

Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is the perfect recipe to bring to my St. Thomas, Megan's Bay Thanksgiving Pig Roast!


Super! I just bought 50lbs of sweet potatoes for a free thanksgiving dinner we're putting on... this recipe will be perfect... although I would love the ginger, I should probably go without to please the mases. THanks!

Organic Goodness

My mouth is watering! The first sentence is glorious!


this is almost similar to how we eat sweet potatoes here in bangalore - with grated fresh coconut, jaggery(mollases) and warm milk. delicious!


This dish looks incredible! Like Marci said, I would love to try this as a pie, or maybe as a creme brulee type dish and broil some sugar on top, sprinkled with toasted hazelnuts...

Lovely as always,


This sounds like a dish made in heaven! I can not wait to get my hands on some sweet potatoes (not as easy as going to the local store, I have to make a trip to Vienna's Naschmarkt, an outdoor market, to score some), but let me tell you that I can already smell that casserole baking! I haven't even had my coffee yet this morning and my mouth is already watering.


this looks amazing! I love that there aren't a lot of ingredients either, pretty basic which means that maybe even I can make it taste good. :)

Tabitha (From Single to Married)

Just one note: you might want to reconsider cooking the potatoes, or any food, wrapped in aluminum foil. Ingesting aluminum is pretty conclusively linked to increased risk of Alzheimer's disease and general cognitive decline. I roast them whole on the oven rack, or cut them into cubes and steam them to cook faster.

Loooooove Nikki's cookie recipe made with almond butter and chopped almonds. Looking forward to trying this one.


My family has traditionally shied away from any sort of sweet potato for Thanksgiving (too healthy probably), but I really think they would dig these.


Another excellent sweet potato recipe! I made the mashed with vanilla and that was a hit. Now a new one to try.

I'm liking the coconut milk!


so exciting! this is much like my recipe, though i add orange juice and cinnamon and use pecans instead of macadamias...yum!

but i have to say, i never pierce my sweet potatoes before i bake them--if you cook them at 400 degrees without piercing, the flesh will actually retreat from the skin (which turns into kind of a crispy shell) and start to caramelize itself. the result tastes awesome and couldn't be easier to do---i just cover a baking sheet with foil and set the potatoes on it. hmm, perhaps i'll have this for breakfast, actually.


I'm happy to see there are no marshmallows!


The photos look amazing in the black cast iron pots. I love that you used coconut milk to give it a nice sweetness.

Culinary Cory

You never cease to amaze me with your magnificent photography, captivating words and mouth-watering and wholesome recipes.
Thank you! I am nourished by both your blog and the food - Thank you!!! :)


Wow. If that doesn't sound good, I don't know what does--Thanksgiving or not. I'm wondering if I have yams around.

I agree about the description of the sauteed greens putting this over the top. I haven't seen a mashed sweet potato recipe with so many ingredients, but they each are dear to my heart individually--ginger, coconut, yams, garlic. Chances are that if I make this, it will be with toasted, slivered almonds instead of macadamia nuts, but that has to do with the nutritional profile of almonds and the fact that macadamia nuts in bulk aren't in my grocery store.

Spectacular-looking recipe, Heidi. I think we're all a little more Thanksgiving-hungry than before.

Erin @ Sprouted in the Kitchen

Looks your recipes always do.
I love coconut so I know I'll love this.

p.s. I made a soup with similar ingredients over the weekend. I added some organic tomato paste and organic peanut butter and blended it- like an African peanut soup- it was really yummy.


I wish I'd seen this sooner! just finished my huge thanksgiving-shopping trip last night. This definitely looks fantastic and will be tried out in my house pretty soon. Your recipes always serve to inspire, and my family has enjoyed many variations of your recipes. (Unfussy Apple Cake has been a favorite, of late!)

Thanks for a great resource!


Great recipe! Tried and it turned out great. Did a couple of Ad Libs: I cut down ginger to 1/2 tsp,, instead of baking in the oven, I scrubbed, and cleaned Sweet potatos, then stuck into my Crock Pot Roaster with a 'tidge" of water for moisture, and steamed for the day on low. Turned out to be melt in the mouth and crunchy with the nuts and coconut. Next time thinking of using brown sugar and maple syrup to see how it turns out. Maybe a few marshmellows at a later time. MMmmmmm... Thanks.


Hey Heidi!

I just put up my never-fail whole-wheat pie crust recipe -- vodka or bourbon keeps the crust flaky without ever getting tough and the alcohol bakes off completely so it's safe for kids -- in case any of your faithful readers are having trouble with their crusts.



this is my first post on my most favourite website ever! I work as a chef on a yacht, and travelling around the world, I never know what sort of ingredients I am going to be able to get my hands on...with these ingenious recipes, I always manage to produce a dish charged with love and inspiration. Thank you!! Today alone, I have made the awesome frittata recipe, the mega scones and these sweet potato pockets of delight..all delish! x

Liesl van Eeden

What a great dish! I will definitely add it to my list of favorites. I might even try it for one of the parties during the holiday season.

Anya from PassiFlora

Just made it and I must say it is a wonderful blend of ingredients, all complimentary of each other. This will go to my favorites file!



I put the leftovers into a blender with a little vegetable stock, chopped red peppers, chopped spring onions and thinned it down with a little milk and blitzed it for about 20 seconds.

sylvia bouqdib

Okay so I added the coconut milk and salt and tasted and it was okay. Then I added the ginger and tasted and it was relatively good. Then I added the maple syrup and tasted and my eyes got REALLY big. I almost never add extra sweetness to sweet potatoes but the maple syrup flavor takes this over the top. Thanks for sharing another stellar Nikki recipe. This was exactly what I needed to take to Thanksgiving.


I'm stuck at college alone for Thanksgiving (too ill to travel) and was looking for something special to make to cheer myself up--I think this just may be it. The recipes you post have never steered me wrong, so I'm really excited. Thanks, Heidi.

HS: Get well soon Lillian! It's never any fun to be sick over the holidays :(


Oh, yummy. Thanks so much.


Hello Heidi, Thanks for sharing all your wonderful recipes. And they are easy to follow and make. Thanks again and Happy Holidays.

Jackie :)

nur Sarah Lee

Nikki's cookies are now part of my regular baking rotation. I had no idea you could make such a delicious cookie with no sugar and butter, but tons of fiber! I look forward to trying this sweet potato recipe. Thanks for sharing these recipes!

PS: Love your pictures, recipes, and website!


I just made this minus the aluminum foil (baked on a rack with a pan underneath) and the sweet potatoes caramelized which added so much to the depth of the flavor. I was cynical about the ginger, but it's so delicious. I might just have to bring this to every holiday potluck/dinner this year!


Okay, so I made this and took it to Thanksgiving dinner at my parents house. No fewer than three times during the meal I heard my grandmother proclaim, "These are real good sweet potatoes". Then once I heard her say, "I don't normally care for sweet potatoes, but these are real good." It made me laugh... and they were that good. Just thought I would share.


I made these for Thanksgiving and my mother-in-law was quite anxious about it as she watched me prepare them. No brown sugar? No marshmallows? As we sat down to eat she announced that the sweet potatoes were "not candied this year," and then shrugged, as if to signify that the hostess/cook (me) was crazy.

But as the meal progressed, people kept taking more and the compliments starting coming. My mother-in-law even took thirds and proclaimed that they were "really good".

I will definitely make this again!


I made this, omitting the maple syrup, but added a touch of vanilla. Everyone loved it. Thanks for sharing this. And I've passed the recipe on to all my friends as well as talked up the website.


This is a fabulous treat! We made these for our vegetarian "dinner for two" tonight and we gobbled them up! I would make them again for sure. Really a great side. We paired it with the maple tempeh and sauteed rainbow chard. Thanks!


I am going to have to try this tecipe this week. My boyfriend loves sweet potatoes! This sounds like a comforting recipe for a chilly night!


I am going to have to try this tecipe this week. My boyfriend loves sweet potatoes! This sounds like a comforting recipe for a chilly night!


I'm up to the mashing stage and loving the flavors with the coconut, maple, etc....but one concern - I wrapped the potatoes in foil and pierced and now have TINY flecks of aluminum foil throughout the mash. I almost gave up as there is a lot to pick out and I doubt Heidi finds aluminum foil consumption super or natural, but I will carry on as these are too good to toss. Would love any input as to what I may have done wrong. Thanks!


Made it,... but it calls for a little to much ginger (for my family's Thanksgiving tastes). I'd recommend cutting the ginger down in half,....


I made this for Thanksgiving. I forgot to add the olive oil/butter but I don't think the dish suffered at all. Yum! Guests raved, which gave me an opportunity to talk up your website.


For those who don't want to use foil, how about parchment-lined foil wrap the sweet potatoes?


We did the "lazy" version of this dish for Thanksgiving, and still fantastic. Heidi and Nikki are both brilliant!

Boiled the sweet potatoes (white-fleshed) and parsnips...thought I'd try a half-n-half blend for variety, which worked out great. Hand blended them, skins and all, with lite coconut milk, crystallized ginger (made up for the lack of real maple syrup and didn't want to fool with the remaining fake crap we have lying around), and salt. Didn't bake it, didn't add butter, and no nuts.

They were delicious, my husband loved them. Perfect smooth consistency, other than the sweet potato skins. The only slightly odd thing about them was that, being white, my husband and I were continually (though pleasantly) surprised that they didn't taste like regular old mashed potatoes. :-)

All for Veggies

SCB, I did the same thing! I made this dish for Thanksgiving and it tasted good in the end, but unfortunately it was full of aluminum flecks from piercing the potatoes after wrapping them with foil. We spent forever stirring and picking out tiny pieces of aluminum, which apparently are not good to ingest. Looking back I guess I should have figured this would happen, but I did follow the directions exactly. Perhaps the wording should be changed or another method of baking potatoes (maybe just without the foil) should be in the recipe?


I made this tonight and, but I felt the 1 tablespoon of grated ginger was a bit overwhelming for my taste (and I do love ginger). I make a sweet potato soup with fresh grated ginger. I will try this recipe again only this time I will start with 1 teaspoon grated ginger instead of 1 tablespoon. I just want a hint of ginger taste without losing the coconut flavor. I will still rate this as a tasty, healthy sweet potato recipe.


I accidently made this with Japanese yams
(they were piled up next to the Garnet sweet potatoes and their red skins threw me off).
I was disappointed by the drab colored greeny-white flesh after baking them, so I covered it up with extra coconut and chopped macadamias.
I also threw in a healthy pinch of ras el hanout when I added the other seasonings.
It was heavenly! Everyone loved it and asked for more. The Japanese yams have a dense, chestnut-like flavor.
It was definitely a happy accident, but next time I'll try it with orange sweet potatoes.


I made this recipe again using 2/3 white sweet potatoes and 1/3 garnett sweet potatoes. I omitted the maple syrup since the white sweet potatoes is naturally sweet. I used only 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger instead of 1 tablespoon. I prefer hand mashing rather than puree in a blender/food processor because the texture is thicker when hand mashed. I mixed in 2 tablespoons of butter into the sweet potatoes instead of drizzling on top. The coconut still browns nicely. I love it more! I can't wait for lunch today.


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